New York Giants: The 7 Main Obstacles to the Giants Making the Playoffs
The Giants could easily win this division, but like every team in the East they have some flaws that could keep them out of the playoffs.
Here are the seven biggest obstacles in the way of the Giants and the playoffs.
The Running Game
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The running game has always been an integral part to the success of the New York Giants.
When the winds start whipping around the Meadowlands around December, it will be especially important to have a strong rushing attack.
Unfortunately for Giants fans, the running game has yet to really get going. The Giants have averaged fewer than 100 rushing yards per game and run for just 3.6 yards per carry.
If the Giants hope to reach the postseason their ground game must improve.
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Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
In recent years the Giants have really failed to close out their seasons strongly. The Giants have finished 1-2 in their last three games (all crucial to the postseason) in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Tom Coughlin's teams now have a reputation of choking down the stretch, which is thoroughly deserved. In a division that looks like it will be hotly contested until the final week, the Giants simply cannot afford to fade in the last few weeks of the season.
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At the beginning of the season the Giants' schedule did not look too daunting.
After all, they would get to play four games against the NFC West. Now, the Giants' schedule seems absolutely brutal. After a Week 8 meeting with the Miami Dolphins (a game the Giants should win), the Giants face a schedule about as pleasant as a dinner with the Donner Party.
That is an absolutely brutal second half schedule. If the Giants aren't 5-1 at their Week 7 bye week, they will have a very tough time making the playoffs.
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If you look at Eli Manning's total stats this season, they look pretty damn good.
He has a 6-2 TD/INT ratio, a 62.4 completion percentage and a passer rating over 100.
If you look a little closer, however, Eli Manning has looked shaky at times. He had a very bad game against the Redskins that probably cost the Giants a win, and although his game against the Rams was decent, it was no the kind of performance that you would hope to get from Eli.
His third game against the Eagles was tremendous, where he was able to convert on big plays to Brandon Jacobs and Victor Cruz and threw for four touchdowns. Going forward the Giants are going to need the Eli we say in Game 3 and not the first two games to have a hope of winning a playoff berth.
For any team, one of the toughest obstacles to reaching the postseason can simply be a numbers game.
Any given team has only three ways to make the playoffs: win the division, win the first Wild Card or win the second Wild Card.
For their division the Giants have to battle the Redskins (2-1), who they have already lost to, the Cowboys (2-1), who when healthy have looked like a deadly team, and the Eagles (1-2), who despite being last in the standings are still considered the best team in the division.
The NFC East is the only division that goes four teams deep with legitimate playoff contenders, so the Giants are going to have a tough time winning their division.
The way I see this season unfolding, there will only be a battle for one Wild Card spot.
The Lions and Packers are both so good that one of them will win the division and the other will take the first Wild Card spot. That leaves the Giants, Falcons/Bucs/Saints and the Redskins/Eagles/Cowboys all fighting for one playoff spot.
The Giants are going to have to be better than four of these teams to win the Wild Card.
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The Giants have had many injuries to both their defense and wide receiving corps.
The Giants currently have key players such as Prince Amukamara, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Jonathan Goff, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Terrell Thomas and Marvin Austin injured.
That is a lot of injuries, particularly on defense that could have a huge effect on the Giants' season.
It may not be too harmful now, but as the season rolls on and players get worn down and tired, it will really hurt not having the depth on defense that they would have had if healthy.
It is not all bad news, however, as Prince, Osi, Manningham and Nicks are going to return to the lineup soon which should help the Giants immensely.
The Offensive Line
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The Giants' offensive line has been a problem since last season and the issues have not improved.
What was once a strength for the G-men has become its biggest liability. The offensive line has allowed the seventh-most sacks in the NFL, and has not given Eli Manning the protection he needs to be at his best.
Furthermore, the line hasn't helped in the running game. In 2008 the Giants' offensive line was the best run-blocking unit in football, and the Giants ran for over 2500 yards at a 5.0 yards per carry.
This year the offensive line has barely been average and the Giants rank 15th in rushing yards. The Giants' offensive line cannot continue this poor play and make the postseason.
They have to get better in pass protection and better in run blocking or else they'll be playing golf in January.